HOWARD — Sometimes, it takes a little more than talent to win. Sometimes, it takes heart.
The East Knox boys basketball team showed what it had inside Thursday, shutting down Highland in the second half and pulling off a 33-32 victory in non-conference action at East Knox.
“That one came from the heart. All heart in the second half and great defense,” said East Knox coach Don McDaniel.
“You’ve got to give East Knox credit. Their kids wanted to play. They wanted to win this game a lot more than we wanted to win,” said Highland coach Mike Hoyng. “They fought in the second half, and our kids didn’t fight. I’m real disappointed in our effort. Not that East Knox beat us, but in the effort we put forth.”
The Bulldogs (4-3) struggled early against the much taller Scots, trailing 8-3 after one quarter. A couple of big 3-pointers by Devin Faucett and Khai Haralson got them going in the second quarter, but Highland (4-4) still took a 23-14 lead into the locker room.
It wasn’t much better in the third quarter, but a defensive switch helped East Knox hold the Scots down as well. The Bulldogs went to a zone defense in an effort to pack it in on the big guys from Highland. It seemed to work, too, as the Scots’ only points in the third quarter came on a 3-pointer and a runner in the lane by Garrett Ulrey.
“This is the first time we’ve played a 2-3 zone. We knew Highland was much bigger than us, so we put it in Wednesday and told the kids we had to play it. Mentally, they do not like it, but I knew we needed it against Highland,” McDaniel said. “I thought we did a real good job defensively, holding them to just 23 points in the first half. Then, I was real happy with the 2-3 zone after halftime. The kids came out and executed it, only giving up nine points in the second half. My hat’s off to the kids. It was all them tonight.”